The voices of millions were heard at the ballot box and in the streets this year, which reaffirmed that if we come together as a community, we can imagine and build a society where everyone feels safe and free to thrive. Unfortunately, this holiday season will pose some challenges.
As individuals honor CDC guidelines and opt out of in-person reunions with friends and family in hopes of abating a global public health crisis — and as the enduring forces of white supremacy continue — the internet has emerged as our reliable glowing unifier. However, unprecedented amounts of screen time can make us more susceptible to our new favorite national pastime: doomscrolling. Just looking to stay informed? Want to focus on the power of affirmative messaging? We hear you! This guide will help you say “thank you, next” to the hate traps so you can unapologetically share what brings you joy and what you want our new future to look like.
The Mariah Carey
We’ve all been there. Someone posts a statement so inflammatory or blatantly untrue that the only right thing to do is call it out, right? Yet when we do this, we fall into the trap of myth busting, which means we allow ourselves to step into the instigator’s frame. Suddenly, we’re no longer telling our story, just refuting theirs. Your response will likely be charged and uninviting. We suggest the “I Don’t Know Her” approach a la Mariah Carey. Whenever folks try to suggest that there’s drama between Carey and another diva, she shuts it down and responds by redirecting the conversation. To avoid myth busting, post your own facts or messages independent of the post that triggered you (but potentially related!) and make an affirmative statement. Or support a trending affirmative hashtag instead! Remember, if you do need to name a contentious figure, use asterisks because you’re not speaking to the opposition. Avoid making them a trending topic and protect yourself from trolls.
The Adam Silver
Oh, you don’t recognize this white man? That’s a good thing! Silver is the commissioner of the NBA and he managed to protect all of his active players (and even their families, at one point) from Covid-19 this summer by creating “the NBA bubble.” Does Silver have a favorite player? Probably! But it’s his job to see the big picture and keep all of his teams, aka the league, on track. While it’s easy to fall into the trap of glorifying individuals, especially when a well-known figure is involved, you want to remind your audiences that you’re rooting for the whole team (movements and issues) and not a single player. Even when celebrating the victories of individuals, it’s important to make clear that collective action is what drives long-term change. There is no one hero or savior and that’s powerful! Society is one big bubble, and it’s important to acknowledge all of the moving parts (Adam Silver style) to understand how we’re all connected. Check out this tweet to see how it’s done outside the basketball world.
The Bill Nye
Sharing an infographic? Use the visual to complement your message, not replace it. Always verify and credit the source. Research shows that statistics and charts can easily overwhelm or mislead. Channel your inner Bill Nye, adjust that invisible bowtie, and enthusiastically guide folks through the visual with simple and concise language. What should be the takeaway? Did you pull the chart from a report? Link to the report for further reading, when possible.
The Megan Thee Stallion
Can you name a more positive voice on the internet? We’ll wait. When the pandemic threatened to do away with Hot Girl Summer, Megan taught us that being a hot girl is a mindset and she’s leading with love the entire way. When a headline claims that one party has “destroyed” the other—take a cue from Megan and move away from negativity and bullying. Pitting one side against the other is divisive and this type of headline is intended to humiliate. Don’t fall for it. Focusing on elements such as someone’s appearance or mental health issues—no matter how much you dislike someone’s views or positions—is nothing more than a cheap distraction. We want to uplift the coming together and the values that have prevailed. Let’s communicate in non-antagonistic ways and persuade folks to support policies that affect us all.
The Hasan Minaj
Have a lot to say these days? We know a lot of experts (it’s kind of our thing), so we’re aware this can be a challenge. The reality is that the internet is a fast place, and while folks may want to read through everything you post and visit every link (ok, just your mom)—it’s unrealistic. Find ways to inspire curiosity. You’re aiming for Hasan Minaj explains taxes energy. Posting an article? Start with your favorite short quote. Lead a dialogue by posing a question. Sharing an extra-long piece? Break down your points in the form of a thread. You can number each tweet (ex: 1/10) to help others follow your thoughts. A good rule of thumb: if there is something you need people to see, say it directly. Always link to the source but avoid relying solely on links when it comes to social media. Remember, folks might become overwhelmed and the goal is to keep them engaged!